A Serious Reason for Silly String

Have you ever shot Silly String at someone? I have memories of camps and birthday parties with silly string fights and the annoying cleanup that always followed.

Silly String is one of those accidental products. The inventors were trying to formulate a hardening foam that could be sprayed on a broken leg to form a cast in the field. The medical product didn’t pan out, but the researchers noticed how much fun it was to shoot—and so the product lives on as a kid’s toy.

In 2006, a soldier named Todd Shriver wrote home asking his parents to send him some Silly String. He didn’t want to ambush his friends, though. He wanted to save their lives from ambush.

Shriver and his unit realized that silly string made the prefect booby trap detector. When entering a suspicious place, the soldiers could spray the silly string across the room. If there were any tripwires to IEDs, the string would land on the invisible wire harmlessly and identify its location. There’s no telling how many lives this silly invention has saved.

I wish there were a spiritual version of silly string that could be sprayed across our lives. Real dangers surround us. Forces of evil are at work in our world, and too often we walk around totally blind to their destructive potential, until we trip the trap and it is too late.

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Continually…

There are some things in life that we hope to only once: graduate high school and get married are two examples that come to mind.

Some things happen occasionally. I go to the dentist every 6 months. Each year, I have a birthday and I pay my taxes.

The Bible says that some things should happen continually, or all the time. Here are a few of those things:

“Through [Jesus] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” (Hebrews 13:15)

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it.” (2 Timothy 3:14)

“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2)

“Let brotherly love continue.” (Hebrews 13:1)

Let’s keep these things in front of us not once or twice or occasionally, but every moment of our lives.

Want to make some kids cry?

Two Extra Fat Chocolate Sandwich Cookies With Frosting Isolated on White Background.

There’s a simple recipe. Place three Oreos in the middle of a room with four 5-year olds. Tears will ensue.

Even as children, we default to selfishness. The things we do initiatively are the things that are self-gratifying or self-preserving. We don’t teach kids to be selfish. We teach them to share.

Youth is temporary. Immaturity can last a lifetime. There are an awful lot of grownups who never got taught that the world does not revolve around them. Too many adults throw temper tantrums and feel justified in gratifying every impulse they have. If we assume that our kids will grow out of impulsiveness and selfishness, we’re probably going to be disappointed. We need to teach self-discipline and generosity.

That’s why the early church is so impressive to me. Listen to how Luke described them:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 ESV)

None of this is “natural” or “normal” human behavior. They learned it from someone. I wonder who that might have been…

The Pursuit of Happiness

Did you know that the average American home is now more than twice the size of a home from the 1950’s? But the average American family is smaller than it was in those days.

Did you know that the average American income is higher than it was in the 1950’s, even when you account for inflation? In 1950, the average American had less than $2,000 in total personal debt. Today’s average is $10,168, not including mortgages.

Despite the fact that we enjoy the highest standard of living on the planet, the best technology, and incredible access to opportunities, “it has been over fifty years since Americans described themselves to pollsters as very happy.” (See David Myers, The American Paradox)

Hear me well: I’m not asking to go back to the good ol’ days. Solomon said not to ask that question (Ecclesiastes 7:10). Here’s what I am asking: what has gone wrong? Why are we unsatisfied?

Perhaps, in our pursuit of happiness, we have traded the things that bring us real meaning for things that are hollow. Only after we bite into the promises of our culture do we find out that they are empty and unsatisfying. The antidote is simple: focus on the simple things that matter most. Invest in your faith, your family, and your friends. All the other stuff is just stuff.